CSULB to roll out new web-based advising programs

The programs are set to take effect beginning this summer.

Cal State Long Beach is implementing four new web-based programs to change several services provided by MyCSULB and assist students to better achieve their academic goals.

The programs’ implementation is being spearheaded by Lynn Mahoney, interim vice provost and dean of undergraduate studies and academic advising, and Tom Enders, associate vice president of enrollment services.

In a presentation to the Associated Students Inc. Senate in late September, Enders said that students face multiple challenges in creating a class schedule that meets both their educational and personal demands.

He said some issues that need to be addressed include how often students and advisers meet for appointments, how students track their degree progress and how to meet the needs of at-risk students struggling with their current majors.

“What we’re hoping with doing four different initiatives is that we see that these products will work together with what we have now, so that they interconnect.” Enders said.

To address these issues, Enders introduced several new programs that CSULB will soon implement, such as College Scheduler, a web-based class scheduler that allows students to form class schedules around their work schedules.

The program, Enders said, will enable students to maximize their units for each semester and decrease the time it takes to graduate.

“Think of not only the help to you [but also your] adviser of having a true multi-year plan that you can keep rerunning after grades are posted or you drop a course, you can see what happens,” Enders said at the meeting.

College Scheduler would also provide reports showing which classes fill most quickly before registration begins.

The web-based scheduler is expected to go online for CSULB in summer or fall 2014, according to Enders.

Enders also said that CSULB will implement the University of Arizona’s Smart Planner program in 2014-15 school year to assist students with their multi-year plans.

According to the Office of University Communications at the University of Arizona, the Smart Planner program looks at a student’s academic record to suggest future course enrollment. It also helps students check credit requirements and important deadlines, so they can have a more informed discussion about their academic and career plans with their adviser.

Mahoney and Enders also said CSULB will implement the “Insight Early Alert” system by Simplicity. The system provides automated assessments of at-risk students, workshop scheduling and early alert tracking to help facilitate adviser appointments.

The alert and advising components of the Insight Early Alert system should be tested in certain groups of majors in fall 2014. These components, however, will open to all majors after testing is completed, according to Enders.

To help identify at-risk students, Enders said CSULB will join the Education Advisory Board (EAB) Student Success Collaborative, which is designed to warn students during enrollment which classes they may or may not pass.

The EAB program’s predictive analytics look at various data from a student’s previous semesters, including courses attempted, grades earned, GPA trends and the difficulty of the major. The program then creates a predictive output for the student, according to Enders.

While many of the programs are designed to minimize students’ time with advisers, pre-law adviser Jason Whitehead in the political science department said that many of the web-based services are only tools, and that a human element is still pivotal to ensure student success.

“I do think those technological platforms can be very useful, but I always think you need some human guidance for the judgment calls that have to be made,” Whitehead said.

Whitehead also said that students have raised concerns over MyCSULB’s and Beachboard’s past performance issues, which raises questions if the new CSULB programs will roll out smoothly.

“Are they giving students enough information?” Whitehead said. “I think there’s enough there, but I think both Beachboard and MyCSULB can be a little clunky with the way the technology works, and sometimes students don’t find that user-friendly.”